Longtime Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant is stepping down for health reasons, the program announced Monday.
Merchant has led the Spartans for 16 seasons.
“After much thought and consultation with my healthcare providers, I have come to the difficult decision that it is in my best interest to [to step down]Partly, Merchant said in a statement. “I want to express my deep gratitude to the entire Michigan State community, including the administration, faculty and staff. I have had the privilege of coaching some of the most talented and dedicated young women in the country.
“Having the opportunity to mentor, lead and empower young women has been the honor of a lifetime. In my 28 years as a head coach and the last 16 years at MSU, I have been fortunate to work with incredible assistant coaches as well as staff members who have shared a love of the game, mentors young women is, and is passionate about, Green. and white. I am truly grateful to each and every one of you for your time, energy, and dedication to our program. Much appreciation and love to all of you.”
Merchant first took over at Michigan State in 2007 after a nine-season run at Eastern Michigan, where she won two regular season MAC titles and reached the NCAA tournament once.
While with the Spartans, Marchant compiled a record of 327–186 and reached the NCAA Tournament 10 times. They won the Big Ten regular season title twice, first in 2011 and again in 2014. Merchant was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2011, and they reached the Sweet 16 in 2009.
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Michigan State went 16–14 under Merchant on the season, and did not make the tournament.
Merchant will be replaced by Dean Lockwood on an interim basis while the program searches for a new head coach.
“We are grateful to Coach Suzy Merchant for her contributions to Michigan State women’s basketball and Spartan athletics over the past 16 seasons,” athletic director Alan Haller said in a statement. “We appreciate everything Coach Merchant has done for our community. His two Big Ten titles and 10 NCAA tournament appearances provided lasting memories.
“Beyond the team’s on-court success, he invested considerable time and energy in our local community as a leader and a role model for young people.”